Koch Hajo

Koch Hajo was the eastern portion of the Kamata kingdom of medieval Assam that Nara Narayan handed over to Raghudev (son of Chilarai) to govern, fixing the Subansiri river as the boundary between the western and the eastern portions. After the death of Nara Narayan in 1584, Raghudev declared independence. The eastern kingdom came to be called Koch Hajo and the western Koch Bihar. This boundary is roughly the boundary between the present-day Assam and West Bengal.

The Mughal attacks which began in 1602 effectively routed Koch Hajo, driving the princes to seek protection from the Ahom rulers. At the time of British conquest, the princes of Koch Hajo ruled small principalities, the most important of which was Darrang.

The name Hajo comes from a legendary king Hajo the Koch, who ruled over the Rangpur district in present-day Bangladesh and some regions of Assam. [Sircar, D. C., (1990) Chapter 6: Political History in "A Comprehensive History of Assam", Vol I, Guwahati 1990, pp 171]

Mughal rule

Since the declaration of independence, the rulers of Koch Hajo and the rulers of Koch Bihar have maintained hostilities against each other. In 1602 the Nawab of Dhaka (governor for the Mughals) moved by Lakshmi Narayan (ruler of Koch Bihar) and others attacked Parikshit Narayan, the ruler of Koch Hajo. Parikshit was defeated at Dhubri and sued for peace. But he soon continued with the hostilities and in 1614 was driven up to Pandu, now in Guwahati. Here, Parikshit surrendered and agreed to become a vassal of the Mughal Empire. But before he could take up this assignment he died. The Mughals then appointed Kabisekhar as the kanungo and instructed Sheikh Ibrahim Karori to set up a Mughal system of administration. The Mughals appointed Bijit Narayan, son of Parikshit Narayan, as the "zamindar" of the region between river Sankosh and Manas, and he became the founder of the Bijni branch of the Koch royal family which finally settled in Abhayapuri.

Mughal divisions

The Mughal divided the kingdom of Koch Hajo into four "sarkars". They were:
# Uttarkol or Dhekeri, north of the Brahmaputra containing Nagaon.
# Dakhinkol, south of Brahmaputra.
# Kamrup, containing Guwahati and Hajo.
# Bangalbhum, containing Bahirbund and Bhitarbund.

The four sarkars were further divided into parganas, and traces of this revenue system exists till today.

The Mughal influence in Kamrup ended in 1682. The Mughal political influence on Koch Hajo lasted for eighty years.

Darrang

With the Mughals reaching the doorsteps of the Ahoms, hostilities ensued. These finally led to a large Mughal army attacking the Ahom kingdom in 1615-1616. On January 27, 1616, the Ahoms, under the king Pratap Singha, attacked the Mughals before dawn and massacred a major portion of the Mughal army. The Ahoms defeated the Mughals in the Bharali war and re-occupied Darrang from the Mughals. After the region was cleared of the Mughals, Pratap Singha established Bali Narayan, the brother of Parikshit Narayan, as the Raja of Darrang. Pratap Singha christened Bali Narayan as Dharma Narayan. The Ahoms, with the help of Bali Narayan, then moved against the remnant of the Mughals ruling in Hajo. After many battles the Ahoms and Bali Narayan's army finally conquered Hajo and removed their influence from Goalpara. Bali Narayan began his rule from Hajo.

This did not last for long and the Mughals maintained their attack on Koch Hajo. Beginning with 1637 the Ahoms faced a number of reverses, including the death of Bali Narayan in Singari battle in 1638. His son ascended the throne and became the king of Darrang (excluding Tezpur). On the other hand, the Ahoms ruled the eastern part of Darrang (the present Sonitpur) through Kalia Bhomora Borphukan, stationed at Kaliabor. In 1639 by the Treaty of Asurar Ali between the Ahom general Momai Tamuli Borbarua and the Mughal commander Allahyar Khan the river Barnadi was fixed as the boundary between the Mughal empire and the Ahom kingdom. Darrang remained with the Ahoms ruled by Mahendra Narayan, son of Bali Narayan. Mahendra Narayan was succeeded by Chandra Narayan and then by Surya Narayan.

Kamrup

Following the war of succession after Shah Jahan in 1657, the Ahoms reoccupied Kamrup. Again, this possession did not last long. In 1662 the Mughal general Mir Jumla marched up to Gargaon, the Ahom capital, and set up camp. But he could not consolidate Mughal rule in the region. Nevertheless, he struck an agreement with the Ahom king that included war indemnities; but he died on his journey back to Dhaka. The Ahoms again captured Kamrup in 1667, and fended off an entrenched Mughal attack led by Kachwaha Rajput Raja Ram Singh in 1671 in the celebrated Battle of Saraighat. In March 1679, the Ahom viceroy in Guwahati, Laluk-sola Borphukan, handed over Kamrup to Nawab Mansur Khan, the deputy of Sultan Azamtara, the son of Aurangzeb and the then governor of Bengal.

Mansur Khan attacked Darrang in 1682, captured Surya Narayan and installed his 5-year old brother as the ruler of Darrang. But that influence did not last for long. In that year itself, the Ahoms, under the kingship of Gadadhar Singha, attacked Kamrup and removed the Mughals for good. In the meantime, the influence of the Raja of Darrang decreased, and the Ahoms took possession of Kamrup till the end of their rule.

Bijni

The Bijni branch of the Koch dynasty controlled its feudatory from the present-day Bijni town from 1671 till 1864 when it was attacked by Jhawlia Mech, a chieftain from Bhutan. This resulted in the capital moving to Dumuria. The earthquake of 1897 destroyed the royal palaces and the capital moved again, first to Jogighopa and then finally to Abhayapuri in 1901. The control of the Bijni branch ended after the Indian government took direct control of the region in 1956.

Notes

References


* Surya Kumar Bhuyan, (1949) "Anglo-Assamese Relations: 1771-1826", Guwahati.
* [http://bongaigaon.nic.in/HIST.HTM History of Bongaigaon] from [http://bongaigaon.nic.in http://bongaigaon.nic.in]

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